With the exception of Rick Rosenthal's reasonably effective “Halloween II,” I'm mostly indifferent to the “Halloween” films that followed John Carpenter's 1978 original — a list that includes Rob Zombie's 2007 and 2009 entries in the series. As Carpenter himself once said: “I felt that there was no more story after the original.” Hard to disagree! But because Hollywood is Hollywood and there's money to be made, the producers are now “recalibrating” the franchise with “Saw” writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.
Am I keen on this idea? Not particularly! But since they're gonna make this regardless of what I think, here are five things I'd like Dunstan, Melton and the producers to consider when crafting the new installment.
1. Take a cue from the subtlety of Carpenter's original
One of the main reasons I love the original “Halloween” is that it's actually understated — hell, even elegant. It's a slasher, yes, but it relies far more on atmosphere and suspense than actual bloodshed in its mission to frighten the audience. While Dunstan and Melton aren't exactly known for this sort of restraint — their filmography includes the 2005 gory post-modern monster flick “Feast,” four “Saw” movies and “Piranha 3DD” — if I were in the producer's seat I would encourage them to try and recapture some of the low-key magic that made Carpenter's film so great.
2. Do something — anything — different
It's a little disheartening when remakes fail to cover any new ground. While there are certainly some elements of the original “Halloween” worth appropriating (see above), plot-wise it would be nice to place Michael Myers in a different setting altogether. Does it have to be Midwest suburbia, for example? Why not a desert-set “Halloween” movie? Why not an urban “Halloween” movie? Why not do a post-modern spin on the material, an approach Dunstan and Melton pulled off somewhat effectively with their Project Greenlight creature-feature “Feast”? There are a lot of different ways they could go here.
3. Don't make it a brainless bloodbath
I hold a special place of contempt in my heart for the “Saw” franchise, which particularly in its later installments more than lived up to its “torture porn” label by trafficking in gruesome violence while also being shot like a particularly ugly episode of “CSI.” I mention this only because of Dunstan and Melton's significant contribution to that series, and with the hope that they can find it in themselves to dial down on the extreme gore they've trafficked in throughout their careers, from “Saw” to “Piranha” to “The Collector.”
4. Leave Jamie Lee Curtis out of this
I don't begrudge the actress going back to the well for “Halloween II” or even “Halloween H20,” but by the time “Resurrection” rolled around it was clear Curtis had lost all sense of decency. If this is indeed a “recalibration” I would advise them to refrain from cheap JLC cameos, which would only betray the creative bankruptcy of the entire enterprise. Best to keep that on the D.L., guys.
5. Don't go too crazy with Michael Myers' back story
The original “Halloween” was so frightening because of the inexplicable nature of Michael's crimes — in that film, there was no rhyme or reason to his relentless killing spree. Later installments, most famously “Halloween 6,” went way too far in trying to explain his motivations, and by killing off the mystery they also effectively destroyed whatever scare factor remained. Here's hoping Dunstan and Melton don't make the same mistake.